DILLON — The Montana Tech student who was driving a vehicle that crashed and killed one passenger and badly hurt two others pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of vehicular homicide while under the influence.
Myles Kittleson, 22, who appeared in Dillon district court at the change of plea hearing, also pleaded guilty to three counts of negligent vehicular assault, as well as a single count of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, misdemeanor charges of unlawful transaction with children and theft were dropped.
Kittleson pleaded guilty of being intoxicated the afternoon of May 3, 2012, while driving east on state Highway 43, between Dewey and Divide, southwest of Butte. The vehicle he was driving, a 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix, hit a rock wall on the south side of the roadway and went airborne for 68 feet before rolling several times.
Spencer Lewis, a 21-year-old Montana Tech student, died at the scene. Calven Goza and Andrea Spicher were ejected in the crash and suffered serious injuries.
Spicher suffered a head injury. She has still not fully recovered from her injuries, Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch said in court on Tuesday. Goza has returned to Montana Tech, but is a paraplegic.
Also in the car that day was Taylor DeBruycker, who was the only person wearing a seatbelt, and he suffered minor injuries.
According to court documents, Kittleson’s blood alcohol content from a blood draw at St. James Healthcare after the accident was found to be .15 percent by the state crime lab. The legal limit in Montana is .08 for drivers 21 and over.
Kittleson also suffered serious injuries. In court on Tuesday, Kittleson moved freely, but said he spent eight months at different hospitals after the accident. His lawyer, J.B. Anderson of Dillon, said Kittleson experiences memory deficiency as a result of the accident and that he sees a chiropractor for his back.
The maximum sentence for Kittleson’s vehicular homicide charge is 30 years in prison. Two of the negligent vehicular assault charges are also felonies and carry maximum sentences of 10 years each.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, the state recommended that Kittleson be sentenced to 30 years in jail with 25 of those years suspended for the vehicular homicide charge. The state also requested a jail term of 10 years with five years suspended for each of the two negligent vehicular assault felony charges. The state recommended that all the jail sentences be served concurrently.
A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered by Judge Loren Tucker. Kittleson is free on recognizance with conditions until sentencing.
A typical pre-sentence investigation takes between six and eight weeks, but Kittleson’s sentencing could be complicated by the matter of restitution to the victims of the accidents. That restitution should be significant, Fitch explained in court on Tuesday, and he said that he had advised the victims’ families that it could be until August before Kittleson is sentenced.
In court Tuesday, Kittleson said he planned to finish his semester at Tech before heading home to Glasgow to help on his family’s farm.